They say all good things come to he who waits, but I have no idea if that’s true. I’ve never really been a he who waits.
Certainly my experience in finding a US publisher for my forthcoming book suggests there’s some truth in the aphorism. Despite the best efforts of my agent, my publisher and countless well-meaning, well-connected friends, no publisher on this side of the Atlantic took even a slight interest in The Upgrade. Some, I’m sure, thought it was a lousy book, but most simply demurred on the grounds that it was “very British”.
By last month the situation had got so desperate – so ridiculous – that I wrote a column on TechCrunch pleading for someone to build an eBay for foreign book rights; a platform where I could at least give away the rights for free to some backwater US publisher with nothing to lose.
Sadly, as of today, no entrepreneur has heeded my call. But, to be honest, I don’t really care: the column had another slightly ironic – and utterly satisfying – consequence. It finally got me a US deal.
With a great publisher. For actual money.
The break came a few hours after the column was published. An email arrived from Gary Baddeley, CEO of New York based publishers, The Disinformation Company – one of my favourite indy publishing houses since way back in my Friday Project days. Gary, it turns out, is an avid reader of TechCrunch; and not only because Disinformation sublets part of its NY headquarters to TechCrunch. Small world, right? More importantly, Gary is a fellow displaced Brit, having moved to the US from Blighty some twenty years ago.
Still, you can take the boy out of the UK etc — Gary thought he might be able to see beyond the “very Britishness” of the book, at least enough to judge it on his merits. A pdf was sent, a couple of days passed, generous words were returned, more emails bounced back and forward, terms were discussed and — long story short — this morning I received a set of countersigned contracts and the first of three advance cheques checks. Disinformation will publish the US edition of The Upgrade early next year in hardcover and ebook formats.
Of course I’m dooming the relationship by saying this, but I’m genuinely pleased that the twists and turns of international publishing finally lead me to Disinfo’s door. Or them to mine. As I say, I’ve long been a fan of the company and, more importantly, it’s clear even from our preliminary discussions that Gary “gets” the book. Which probably vindicates everyone else who said that only British people would like it.
In any case, Gary has made the eminently sensible contractual demand that I take another pass through the manuscript, tweaking any painfully British phrases and concepts to make them more palatable to Americans. Such are the yawning lead times of publishing, I only have
two fortnights a month to get it done, so I’d better get cracking.
Get cracking? Is that one of ours too?